Meet Our People: Esther Blok

Senior HR Generalist, The Netherlands
Esther Blok

Welcome to our exclusive 'Meet the People' series, where we take you behind the scenes and meet the dedicated individuals who support customs support. These passionate professionals play a critical role in ensuring the success of our mission: strengthening your global trade.

In this edition we proudly present Senior HR Generalist Esther Blok, who works with our branches in the Netherlands to ensure that our people are satisfied, receive the right salary and know what benefits they are entitled to when they work at Customs Support.

Read with us as Esther shares her career, what attracted her to Customs Support and what you can expect if you consider joining us.

Who are you?

My name is Esther Blok. I'm from Holland. I am 52. I live in Schoonhoven. It is a small village near Gouda. I haven't always lived there, as I was born and raised in The Hague.

I have a daughter who is 31 years old. I have two granddaughters, one two and a half years old and one that is nine months old. I look after them every Thursday and love it.  

I have been with Customs Support Netherlands as a senior HR generalist for over one year now, after working with another company for 22 years.

What does a senior HR generalist do at Customs Support?

I coordinate everything related to an HR role, such as contracts, salaries, training, pensions, employment conditions and legislation, and other working regulations. Basically, my job is to make sure our people are well taken care of and that we can support them with what they need to be successful.

What does your typical working day look like?

There is never a typical workday. We have 13 locations in the Netherlands and I go to two of those offices every week to check in with the staff. Today, I am in Customs Support Venlo .

I speak to a lot of people every day, whether it's about onboarding, helping with sick leave, managing salaries, organising fun events, or helping our employees with everyday questions. My day is all about the people at Customs Support.

You left a position of 22 years to work at Customs Support. What attracted you to come here?

I worked at a home care organisation. There were two more HR managers on my team and, together with another colleague, we were responsible for all HR for more than 750 people.

It was not boring or uninteresting, but after 22 years I was no longer stimulated, and I was looking for a new challenge.

When I looked at Customs Support, I saw that this is a company that is developing and where there is room to build. The management are open to ideas and input, and they really empower their people to create an environment in which the company can thrive.

I wanted some of that atmosphere, that energy, something to run with and to be challenged at work, and I haven't looked back since joining Customs Support.

What are some of the benefits people get with Customs Support?

I can only speak for the Netherlands as there are several HR departments within the group, but there are a few things I like about our employee care packages here.

Firstly, we have a contribution towards healthcare costs that is on top of the salary. Healthcare is not free in the Netherlands, which is why everyone must take out insurance. It is nice that this is contributed to without it being a factor in salaries so that you are not forced to choose when budgeting.

Secondly, there is the pension planning workshop that we can arrange for our employees. These workshops are offered to our employees so that they know better what to expect when they retire.

The course often lasts three days and there is the option to follow it together with your partner. When we talk to our people here, they are very happy with this facility.

Third, there are our community events. We have a large network of people here at Customs Support and everyone gets along well from a distance, but there aren't many work-related reasons to meet. We try to organise lunches and get-togethers so that our colleagues can spend some good time together.

We are currently working with our fitter members on group running events, as a warm-up for the Rotterdam Marathon in April. A number of colleagues recently participated in the Dam tot Dam run in Amsterdam.

What do you like to do outside of work, and how do you think it affects your work skills?

I enjoy spending time with my two grandchildren and daughter, but I still have a lot of time for myself. I like going to festivals, shopping, travelling, seeing friends and enjoying good food.

In addition to maintaining balance in my life, I also talk to many different people all the time. It is very helpful to understand how different we all are, even within the same communities. The 14 offices in the Netherlands all have their own character despite being in the same country and organisation, so the more people I meet and interact with, the better.

What are the biggest green flags people should look out for when considering working for a company?

I think you have to find a stable organization, one that is well built from the top down and that shows that their values permeate the people who work under their leadership.

Benefits and money are important, but feeling trusted and valued creates a better environment and allows you and the company to develop. It's so important to feel part of something, rather than just a number. I ended up at Customs Support because it felt like a nice world to be in.

The last is progress, not just in salary but also in skills development, staying challenged and even getting a better job title – if that's something you're interested in . Companies that grow and change are more likely to have these opportunities.

You work with a European network. If you were to visit an office location of Custom Support, which city or country would you want to go to first and why?

I would like to go to Italy again. I think it's a nice country. My daughter is getting married in Italy next year, so I'll be going again soon.

But in every location there is a different style of people. I would like to visit all my colleagues across Europe and meet them properly.